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Archive | November, 2017

Call Me By Your Name Review

14 Nov

Why is it that in a film so enthralled by the concepts of love and passion, there is surprisingly little of both to be felt throughout? You can certainly see that love and passion play out on screen, but there’s a difference between seeing and feeling. All the more power to those who have been able to do both for this film, to those who have found something to viscerally connect to. However, there’s something glaringly missing for me, a huge disconnect between the supposed emotional foundation and the execution of the romance. The interactions between Elio and Oliver feel overwhelmingly physical, something that in theory should be completely fine because sexual maturation is an important element of the story (interestingly enough, Guadagnino seems to shy away from actually showing them having sex). In practice, though, there is simply very little depth that feeds into the physicality, probably because the interactions between the two never truly become elevated beyond the simple push and pull of surface level attraction. We get a lot of scenes between them, but not enough time with them, if that makes sense.

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Review

11 Nov

Everything Martin McDonagh is going for here is admirable, but too much of it doesn’t work for this film to truly resonate. I’m a fan of McDonagh because he seems to realize the value in absurdity, in taking a look at people who have been through immense hardship and doubling down on the nonsensical nature of the world they live in. There’s a salient position in certain portrayals of trauma for pitch black comedy, and this approach can prove very fruitful for making striking observations about society. Three Billboards works occasionally in this realm, but people aren’t wrong when they point out that there are tonal issues throughout. The more specific problem, however, is that of the tonal issues as they relate to the character development. It’s one issue if scenes seem to make jarring turns within themselves–that can serve a very useful purpose–but tonal inconsistencies become more glaring when transitions within character arcs are weak. That’s the case here with Rockwell’s character arc in the latter half, a slight misfire of an attempt to bring him and McDormand together under the umbrella of redemption. The same goes for Rockwell and Caleb Landry Jones’ character, a dynamic that is unfortunately never fully developed.

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Lady Bird Review

7 Nov

It’s…good. It’s one of those well-made films that has nothing glaringly wrong with it and is impossible to hate because of the palpable passion behind the camera. However, it’s also one of those films that seems to get its mileage out of how much the audience connects with it, and any connection to it for me is on a smaller and more transient level. There are little moments throughout that are stunningly beautiful in their simplicity–a few pieces of paper late in the film hold a tremendous amount of power–but Gerwig’s slice of life approach doesn’t always translate to meaningful depth for every character and dynamic. I’m left marveling at a few select sequences and appreciating Gerwig’s grounded approach, but I’m also left wondering “Is that it?” as the credits roll. Clearly the approach here is true to real life, and perhaps the hype influenced my slightly underwhelmed reaction, but the film overall doesn’t quite have that element that pushes its collective whole into “great” territory. It’s solid but not special. And you know, that’s perfectly fine.

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Last Flag Flying Review

3 Nov

A Richard Linklater road trip comedy sounds like the greatest idea ever. It’s a perfect setup for his naturalistic, free wheeling dialogue and his vigorous commitment to character, for his nearly unmatched skill at drawing humanity and beauty out of apparent mundanity. He certainly accomplishes that at select moments throughout this film, but more often than not, the conversations feel artificial, strained in a way. The characters almost feel different for the sake of being different rather than different enough to draw out hidden complexities. Cranston’s hammy character is well acted–no surprise there, he’s one of the best actors alive–but it sometimes feels forced comedy-wise. Maybe that’s more the screenplay’s fault, and hey, maybe it’s wrong for me to ascribe your typical Linklater quality markers to this markedly different film. But I still get the sense that he’s trying to have it both ways. He’s trying to bring what he knows and loves to a more formalistic structure, and while I have no doubts that he has the talent to do so, it’s unfortunately not his greatest effort here.

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